Saturday, December 26, 2015

Will Meryl star in a 2015 Black List script?

Hope everyone had a great Christmas (I mean this in the most secular way possible)!  Almost two weeks ago now, Hollywood revealed its annual "Black List" of top unproduced screenplays.  I typically enjoy scrolling down the list to see if there are any that could possibly involve Meryl.  It quickly gets a bit disheartening, as not only do very few films center around women, but even fewer around women over 50.  A couple of scripts caught my eye this year, however, with one in particular that I'm going to obsess over until it's announced that Meryl is starring.

Just for context, the script with the highest number of "mentions" received 44.  At 31, we see Miss Sloane.  I previously discussed this script in September when it was purchased at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Depicting a lobbyist fighting for stricter gun control, I continue to wonder if this is different from The Senator's Wife.  

Next, at 16 mentions is Do No Harm (not to be confused with ...First Do No Harm of course).  Said to be about a surgeon whose life "takes a dangerous turn when she indulges in an affair with a doctor whose god complex challenges her own."  It doesn't sound particularly interesting, but it seems possible that Meryl would fit the demographic.  Albeit I picture execs likely wanting to feature a younger, "hotter" actress if much of the film would focus on the affair.

At 14, we find Cut and Run, about a "female urologist and retired hooker who form an unlikely friendship when they team up to take down a notorious sex trafficker in Miami."  Again, appears that it technically could include Meryl, although it reads like it could be more of an action flick?  It could possibly be a social commentary film, bringing attention/awareness to forced prostitution in the U.S.  

Lastly, at 13 mentions and by far most intriguing to me, was Nyad.  Written by Robert Specland, it is "based on the true story of marathon swimmer Diana Nyad, who in 2013, after 4 failed attempts and at the age of 64, became the first person ever to open-swim from Cuba to Florida (55 hours non-stop) overcoming impossible odds, personal tragedy, and 103 miles of open ocean."

I had never heard of Nyad, but quickly began my research.  All the info I needed was best captured in the documentary I watched about her experience entitled The Other Shore.

Ok, on paper this role would seem to tick so many boxes for Meryl: biopic, age 64, physical transformation, intense personality, lesbian who (allegedly) suffered abuse at hands of both her Greek-Egyptian stepfather (Diana does a great accent of him in doc) and Hall of Fame swim coach Jack Nelson.  

I've read in interviews that Meryl swims for exercise.  I don't know if she continues to do so, but if I hadn't known that, I wouldn't have connected the possibility of her portraying this woman.  Not having read the script, I of course don't know how much of it takes place in the water, but I imagine quite a bit.  No doubt the filming would be physically grueling.  Meryl is no stranger to strenuous physical work in preparation for roles (The River Wild) and I wonder if it would take on extra significance were she to undergo it in her 60's rather than her 40's.  If the movie were to be made with Meryl, I expect it would have to be picked up this year with a filming schedule no later than summer 2017, incidentally when Meryl would turn 68.  Such a timeline would also allow for her to film The Good House later this year.

At first I thought Nyad may be too much of a stretch, but the more I think about it, and as I write this post, it seems at least possible, if not plausible.  Can you not totally picture Jodi Foster signing on to produce/direct or even star (as Nyad's trainer Bonnie Stoll)?!  Regardless of your interest in this project, I highly recommend viewing The Other Shore, which can be rented on Itunes.  Excited to hear people's thoughts on the documentary as well as Meryl's conceivable participation in a feature film.

Bonnie Stoll (left) and Diana Nyad (right)

Monday, December 21, 2015

"Suffragette" earns seven awards from Women Film Critics Circle

A few days ago, the Women Film Critics Circle announced their 2015 awards.  Not surprisingly, they heavily favored Suffragette, handing out recognition in seven categories:

Best Movie about Women
Best Movie by a Woman
Best Actress (Carey Mulligan)
Best Female Images in a Movie
Best Ensemble (go Meryl!)
Courage in Filmmaking (Sarah Gavron)
Karen Morley Award (a film that best exemplifies a woman's place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity)

Unfortunately, this is essentially the only recognition this film has garnered among critics, and the Women Film Critics Circle should be a slam dunk anyway.  Regardless, I'm a fan of the film and wager that Meryl is very happy that she was a part of it.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

When will "Florence Foster Jenkins" be released?

In the four+ years I've been writing this blog, we may currently be in the most quiet time for Streep film news we've ever had.  Despite two movies released in the last four months, it's mid December and few are talking about her.  A little over a year ago, I thought that the 2015-16 awards season could be one of the most prominent in Meryl's career.  Recognition for Ricki and the Flash and Master Class (had the latter been made and released in 2015) seemed assured.  Maybe they were even going release Florence Foster Jenkins by year's end.  Three Golden Globe nods?!  

Alas, Ricki underperformed and Suffragette, while a decent film, has seemingly passed quietly into the shadows.  2016 holds possibility with Florence Foster Jenkins.  The film, directed by Stephen Frears, who led Helen Mirren (The Queen) and Judi Dench (Philomena) to raves in recent years, has no official release date.  IMDb lists it being released in the Netherlands August 31 and in Germany November 26.  If the former is correct, it will have to be released in the U.S. sometime in August. If the latter is correct (which seems more likely) I imagine we should expect it in the U.S. in October or November.  Recently Streep's films, if a bit lighter in tone, have done fairly well with late summer releases.  From what I understand, Florence will be mostly dramatic with some comedic elements.  It could go either way: late summer release, or more Oscar-typical mid to late fall.  

I'm looking forward to getting some confirmation on when we can expect it, as well as Meryl's next solidified project.  Everyone and their mother knows I want it to be The Good House.  Still hopin'.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

No Golden Globe nod for Meryl

I'm not going to call it a "snub" because looking at the list of nominees, it was going to be a difficult year for Meryl to get in.  When I learned of the results this morning, I was honestly a little surprised that she didn't get's usually a slam dunk, particularly at the Globes in this category.  Her role in Ricki and the Flash seemed tailor-made for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Musical/Comedy Category.  Streep actually had pretty decent reviews for her work, but with the high expectations from both director Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Diablo Cody, the tepid quality of the picture sealed Meryl's fate.

Here are the nominees for Actress in a Musical/Comedy:

1. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)--probably not a comedy, but we've covered this already.
2. Melissa McCarthy (Spy)
3. Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)
4. Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van)
5. Lily Tomlin (Grandma)

I'm sure Meryl is  thrilled for her friend Lily Tomlin.  I'm personally happy for both Melissa McCarthy and Amy Schumer, as both of those ladies crack me up.  As a fan of Downton Abbey, I'm looking forward to seeing Dame Maggie in her film.

On the bright side, Meryl sitting a year out will improve  her chances for recognition next year in Florence Foster Jenkins, especially since it already seems like that film, although mostly dramatic, will have some comedic elements and will likely end up in the Musical/Comedy category.  Hoping she challenges for the win. 

The full list of nominees can be seen here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New biography of Streep arriving in spring 2016

Broadway World is reporting that a new biography of Meryl Streep will be released on April 26, 2016.  Entitled Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep, it is written by Michael Schulman, a contributor to  both the New Yorker and New York Times.  The book will feature Streep in her very early years as she ascends to stardom in the New York theater circle.  It appears that particular focus will be placed on Meryl's development of her craft and family against the backdrop of "feminism, marriage, love and sacrifice."

Of course I'll be purchasing a copy and reading this as soon humanly possible.  Most, if not all books I've read on Meryl have contained multiple inaccuracies.  I'm hopeful that Mr. Schulman has indeed done his research.  I'm always interested to get new insight into Meryl's work and motivations near the beginning of her career.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Will Meryl be nominated for Golden Globe Award?

As the most nominated actor in Globes history, Streep will be seeking her 30th nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association next week.  Normally, a nod is a foregone conclusion.  With the tepid critical and box office responses to August's Ricki and the Flash, however, Meryl's almost automatic nomination could be in jeopardy this year.

Up to this point, I've only seen Meryl's performance and one other that is likely in contention, Amy Schumer in Trainwreck.  According to the "experts" at Gold Derby, the current odds for Actress in a Musical or Comedy are as follows:

1. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) 14/5 odds
2. Lily Tomlin (Grandma) 3/1
3. Amy Schumer (Trainwreck) 4/1
4. Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van) 10/1
5. Blythe Danner (I'll See You in My Dreams) 18/1
6. Melissa McCarthy (Spy) 18/1
7. Meryl Streep (Ricki and the Flash) 20/1
8. Sandra Bullock (Our Brand is Crisis) 25/1

After the top eight, all contenders as given 100/1 odds.

Ok, a few thoughts.  At the top of the list, we have Jennifer Lawrence, who has been regularly in award conversations for almost five consecutive years now.  And Joy's positioning is highly likely category fraud.  I'm not even going to get into it, because the occurrence is perennial and widely known.  For crying out loud, even The Martian is competing in the Musical/Comedy category this year.  We just have to deal with it.  

I enjoy that the majority of actresses in this category are over the age of 40.  In the top eight, four are over 65, two over 45.  Schumer is 34 and Lawrence, the front-runner, is 25.

Meryl is totally on the bubble for a nomination in my opinion.  I cannot imagine that Sandra Bullock will get in for a film that made back only quarter of its budget and is only at 33% on Rotten Tomatoes.  But I have a hard time figuring out whom among the top five could be replaced.  Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer are locks in my opinion.  Do they dare not recognize Tomlin, Danner and Smith?  Three women of a generation that is increasingly less visible in cinemas of leading ladies.  I suppose the same could be said for Meryl, but come on.

The only path I can foresee for Meryl's name to be mentioned next Thursday is that voting members of the HFPA want to ensure higher viewership for their telecast.  Meryl's absence in a year where she has a film in contention may seem bizarre to filmgoers.  Fingers crossed.

The Golden Globe Awards will be announced December 10.